Friday, 21 July 2017

EP Review: MCC [MAGNA CARTA CARTEL] - The Demon King

MCC - The Demon King

01. The Demon King
02. Sway
03. Turn
04. Jennifer
05. Mayfire

It's been a few months since guitarist Martin Persner became the first (ex) member of Ghost to reveal his identity to the world. MCC, which stands for Magna Carta Cartel, is the band Martin was in before he, and I believe other members, left to form Ghost. I'm not sure of the full story as it's still clouded in mystery, but regardless, Martin has resurrected MCC with the launch of this new EP.

All five songs are well written and are sonically works of art. The overall sound of the EP reminds me of Pink Floyd, but with the Pop sensibility of an act like ABBA or Fleetwood Mac. It's a very chilled record but a very engaging one nonetheless. Darkness has never sounded so relaxing and under control.

The title track of The Demon King deals with the subject of depression, and the heartfelt emotion running through it makes it a compelling listen. Martin's vocals have an enchanting soothing quality, and this gives a wonderful dimension to the songs. My other favourite is Sway which is pure magic to say the least.

Considering that Martin allegedly only co-wrote a couple of Ghost songs, this EP is very reminiscent of Ghost when they're at their most Prog, but without the heaviness. Hearing The Demon King makes me think that he brought a lot more to the table in that band, than he has been given credit for, if not in writing, certainly in tone and atmosphere.

Whatever happened, Martin is clearly a huge talent and I'm really pleased that he is channelling his creativity into MCC, and is moving forward with his musical career. It deserves to be a very bright one.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Album Review: JYRKI 69 - Helsinki Vampire

Jyrki 69 - Helsinki Vampire

01. Ad Infinitum
02. Versailles
03. Spanish Steps
04. Bloodlust
05. Last Halloween
06. Happy Birthday
07. Call Of The Night
08. Perfection
09. Close Your Eyes
10. In Your Dreams
11. Sayonara

Helsinki Vampire is the debut solo album from Jyrki 69, who is also the lead singer of Finnish Goth Rockers The 69 Eyes. It so happens that The 69 Eyes are one of my favourite bands and have been for many years, so I've been really looking forward to hearing this.

With Jyrki 69's distinct baritone vocals, often likened to Pete Steele's (Type O Negative) and Andrew Eldritch's (Sisters of Mercy), Helsinki Vampire was always destined to sound like a 69 Eyes record. The rest of the band also played on a few tracks too, which is particularly cool. It's nice to see that this solo venture has the support of the others.

I wouldn't say Helsinki Vampire is as strong as the last few 69 Eyes albums, but it isn't far off. Sonically, it has a similar feel to their Paris Kills album, but with a little more synth and subtle 80's Pop vibe running throughout. Opener Ad Infinitum has a very long atmospheric intro before eventually kicking into some Electronica tinged Heavy Gothic Rock, before dwindling into some slow piano coupled with some baritone monologue. It's an interesting piece, but far from my favourite track on the album, and a bizarre opener. It's followed with the slow, haunting Versailles which mixes piano with some industrial tones. Spanish Steps has a similar vibe, and like the previous song, is Goth as fuck.

For me, Bloodlust is the best track on the record. Its pulsing bass married with the 'cool as the dead' guitar riffing and Jyrki's vocals, make this a dark romantic classic that's sure to be a dance floor hit in Goth clubs in all of the coldest corners of Europe. Next up is Last Halloween which has a catchy piano part sprinkled with the flavour of John Carpenter's Halloween theme music. It's a glorious homage, and works well. This track is a catchy number that shamelessly adorns itself with every lyrical Gothic stereo type imaginable, which  is part of the charm.

Other personal favourites include Call of the Night, Close Your Eyes and In Your Dreams. Musically, this album is what I expected from Jyrki 69. There aren't any real surprises and it doesn't tread any ground that The 69 Eyes haven't trod on at some point before. What it does boast is a plethora of really good songs, and it certainly serves as a fantastic appetiser for the ravenous 69 Eyes fans who are patiently waiting for their next record.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Album Review: ROYAL BLOOD - How Did We Get So Dark?

Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark?

01. How Did We Get So Dark?
02. Lights Out
03. I Only Lie When I Love You
04. She's Creeping
05. Look Like You Know
06. Where Are You Now?
07. Don't Tell
08. Hook, Line & Sinker
09. Hole In Your Heart
10. Sleep

British Alternative Rock duo Royal Blood are back with the highly anticipated follow up to their 2014 self titled debut album. Their first record was a massive success worldwide and launched this obscure act into the mainstream almost overnight. They had the modern contemporary lo-fi sound that's hugely popular, backed up with some fine Rock songs. The album was fairly short and none of the songs were long enough to outstay their welcome. What also made that debut such a classic was that every song was fantastic and a potential single in its own right. The only problem was that the hype was so great that it brought into question how a band could live up to those unrealistic expectations and deliver a follow up album that won't disappoint.

Now the wait is over and that follow up is finally here. Royal Blood have clearly gone down the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" path, as the production, song writing and even the artwork are all similar to the albums predecessor. They haven't taken any chances here and have clearly made Royal Blood part 2.

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that Royal Blood know how to pen a hit Rock song. They manage this with ease time after time, without resorting to anything 'cheesy' or overly nostalgic in sound. This is contemporary Alternative Rock at its finest and has huge crossover appeal, yet manages to remain radio friendly without compromising any musical integrity. Just check out the infectious Lights Out, Hook, Line & Sinker, and I Only Lie When I Love You to hear why they're such hot property right now.

As an album in its entirety, I wouldn't say it's as strong as the classic debut, but it does have enough killer tracks to delight existing fans, and no doubt win Royal Blood plenty more.

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